Exposure Ramping With Pulse

Exposure Ramping With Pulse

This article will give you some guidelines on how to do an exposure ramp with Pulse. The exposure ramping feature can be found in the advanced time lapse settings, which is in the top right corner of the timelapse page. We also reccomend first looking at this article: ‘Taking a Timelapse with Pulse’ (https://alpinelaboratories.com/pages/time-lapse-with-pulse_l)

What is Exposure Ramping and the 'Holy Grail' of time-lapse?

Exposure Ramping is a method by which the shutter speed (exposure length) and/or ISO (light sensitivity) change as your time-lapse progresses. This is useful in situations with gradually changing light levels, like a sunset or sunrise. Full day to night timelapses are commonly referred to as ‘Holy Grail’ Timelapses because they were originally quite difficult and also incredible if successfully captured. For a more in depth explanation, please check out our article on ‘What is Exposure Ramping?’ https://alpinelaboratories.com/pages/exposure-ramping_l

Please note that Exposure Ramping is a fairly advanced method and that a good amount of trial and error is necessary for the best results. We recommend attempting a few tests to figure out the best settings for your camera and location before expecting to get a perfect result.

Gear needed:

1 x Pulse

1 x Tripod

1 x DSLR

1 x Smartphone for programming


Setting up your Exposure Ramp


In the continental United States, 1.5 hours is a good reference point. This will depend on the duration of the sunset in your region (it varies by latitude and season). This gives you 45 minutes before and after the sunset, which is when the most dramatic light changes happen.

Time Delay

Setting Beginning and Ending Exposure

You will want the initial exposure to be as short as possible, to minimize the length of your maximum exposure. We have sampled the beginning end ending frames of the timelapse above so you can get a sense of what our beginning and ending exposures were like.

We recommend going to the location the day before and taking a well exposed photo around the time you would be starting and ending your timelapse. You can then use these settings on your shooting day for your beginning and ending exposures.

As you do do more timelapses and gain more experience, you may be able to know what your finishing exposure settings should be based on your location. For example on our 6D at Alpine Labs, f2.8, 30sec, ISO 1600 is usually perfect for stars in a dark location.

Pro trip: Keeping the beginning ISO small will reduce sensor noise, which increases over time as the ISO ramps up. At the same time, don’t set your shutter speed too long or it may become longer than your timelapse interval.

Exposure Change

In the continental US, 1.9 f-stops/10 minutes is a good starting place. However, this will also vary depending on your latitude and season.

Both the Pulse app and Radian app will give you feedback on what results to expect based on your input settings.

ISO Ramping

One of the biggest advantages to using a USB tethered intervalometer, such as a Pulse or Radian, is that you can change the ISO along with the shutter speed during your time lapse. The ISO allows you to increase or decrease your camera's sensitivity to light, thus allowing you more creative control over your shutter speed. It also makes Holy Grail timelapses possible, because shutter speed alone does not have enough functional range to capture a full day to night.

Holy Grail Time-lapse Software

LRTimeLapse - Used in conjunction with Adobe's Lightroom, LRTimelapse can do wonders for your time-lapse. The software essentially allows you to keyframe your time-lapse, and change a number of your settings (exposure, contrast, saturation, white balance, highlights, shadows, etc) over time. Colors and Temperature change quite a bit during a Holy Grail timelapse and and LRTimeLapse allows you to manage this. It also allows you to deflicker your time-lapses (caused by camera aperture imperfections, sudden changes in light, or from manually adjusting exposure), which is especially useful for manual bulb-ramping. Gunther (the creator of LRTimeLapse) has many detailed tutorials on how to do the post production of your Holy Grail timelapse and we highly recommend them.


Holy Grail time lapses are probably the single hardest time lapse to capture. They are also the most stunning. Though it will require a little effort to get used to the workflow, Pulse gives you the tools to capture your exposure perfectly throughout the length of your timelapse, without having have to touch and risk moving your camera. Once you get the hang of it, these will likely be the best timelapses you’ve ever shot!

Still have questions? Shoot us an email at info@alpinelaboratories.com